Stop Using These Words on Your Resume

Your resume is supposed to make you stand out. So why are you using the same terminology as everyone else?

As most experts will tell you, it’s best to think of your resume, or your LinkedIn profile, as a sort of ‘teaser advertisement’ for you and your skills and experience.  After all, the goal of the resume is to get a IT recruiter or potential employer interested enough to call you for an interview.  You have just a few moments to capture the reader’s attention.

Recruiters typically review hundreds of resumes every week, and the truth is that 90% of them contain statements like “Passionate about delivering effective results in innovative ways while leveraging my skills in a dynamic environment.”

Quite apart from the fact that a line like that actually says very little about your unique IT skills and abilities, it also doesn’t do much to help you stand out from the competition – because everyone’s using the same words to describe themselves.

Here are some words you should avoid if you want to make sure your resume doesn’t sound like everyone else’s – and some suggestions for alternatives.


Ten-15 years ago, ‘passion’ and ‘passionate’ may have been unusual words to use in a job-seeking context; today, they’re so overused that they’ve become wallpaper. Instead, try statements which begin in different ways:

  • “I do best when I’m…”
    “Very interested in…”
    “I get excited by creating…”


Unless you actually work in a think-tank which is designed to pursue scientific innovation, ‘innovative’ is another word which has become chronically overused, especially when describing skills. Using more varied language will do a better job of highlighting your achievements:

  • “Developed a more cost-effective method of…”
  • “Used web-based technology to transform…”
  • “Created a proprietary system to…”


Most people use ‘dynamic’ in a resume/profile context as a sort of shorthand to convey that they’re comfortable with a fast-paced environment, but like many overused words, it can lose its meaning through overuse. Try these instead:

  • High-productivity
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Brisk
  • High-change
  • Growing


One of the worst offenders in the jargon stakes, ‘utilize’ just makes you sound like you’re trying too hard, and if we could delete one word from your resume, ‘utilize’ would be it. Go for simplicity instead:

  • “Put my skills to work…” (instead of “utilize my skills”)
  • “Used existing resources to create…” (instead of “utilized existing resources”)
  • “Developed new process…” (instead of “utilized research to transform existing processes”)


‘Extensive’, in a resume context, is one of those words that can mean anything – and therefore tends to mean nothing. You don’t have to state that you’ve got ‘extensive experience’ in something if the skills and experience you’ve listed clearly outline your achievements. For example:

  • “Managed 5-person client services team…” (instead of “extensive experience in managing people”)
  • “Coordinated $500,000 marketing initiative…” (instead of “extensive experience with marketing”)
  • “Implemented enterprise-wide supply chain management system…” (instead of “extensive experience with supply chain management”)

Bonus Tips

  • Avoid repetition of adjectives – it can suck the excitement right out of your resume, and make it look padded with description rather than facts
  • Opt for verbs (managed, led, completed) over adjectives (pro-active, forward-thinking, innovative)
  • Don’t use long paragraphs. Describe each job you’ve had in one sentence, then list accomplishments in bullet points. This makes your resume an easier, more compelling read

Remember: As with any advertisement, resumes are best when they’re simple, straightforward, and go easy on the jargon.

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